Medicated to Death?
Americans are increasingly prescribed medications that help them get more sleep, feel less stress and have more energy to accomplish a seemingly endless list of daily tasks. But is this really a good thing? Let’s take a look at how overmedication can be affecting our health.
State of Health
How much medication are we taking, and why?
Nearly 7 in 10
Americans who take at least one prescription drug (1)
1 in 5
People who take five or more prescriptions (1)
Americans affected by chronic pain (2)
Proportion of the world’s painkillers consumed in the United States (3)
1 in 4
American adults who are unhappy with their sleep patterns (4)
Prescriptions Americans filled for sleeping pills in 2011, up from 47 million in 2006 (5)
4 in 5
Americans prescribed antibiotics each year (6)
The Risks of Overmedication
People who become addicted to benzodiazepines (like some sleeping pills or anxiety medication) after taking them daily for more than 6 weeks (7)
Every 19 minutes, a person dies from prescription drug overdose (3)
Annual number of drug-resistant bacterial infections in the U.S. (8)
Causes of Overmedication?
Every patient is different, but some common themes emerge in considering potential overmedication:
- Increase in chronic conditions, like heart disease and diabetes
- Rapidly aging population, which means more people need to take medications
- Cost of expensive testing vs. prescription costs
Prescription drugs can be very potent and therefore must be thoroughly tested before becoming available on the market. They must meet industry standards in accordance with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Some drugs are unavoidably unsafe, meaning they carry serious risks and cannot be made safe but come with benefits nevertheless. Prescription drug manufacturers do have a duty to warn users of known side effects. Physicians and pharmacies must be made aware of these risks as well, if someone dies because of these drugs without being informed the provider could get sued by a philadelphia wrongful death law firm.
If a person is seriously injured or killed due to an unsafe medication, it may be possible to take legal action. However, establishing fault can be quite complex and require expert testimony. Therefore, it is important to seek the advice of a products liability lawyer who has experience dealing with dangerous drugs.